Conservative MEPs will this week back measures to help British authorities pursue foreign drivers who flout UK traffic laws and then escape justice.

Proposals before the European Parliament in Strasbourg will enable EU countries to swap ownership details of vehicles involved in offences, in order to crack down on drivers who disappear to their home states without paying fines or fixed penalties.

The directive would cover a range of offences including drink driving, speeding, using a mobile phone at the wheel and ignoring red lights or one-way signs.

Conservative Transport and Tourism Spokesman Jacqueline Foster said the proposals would help the police tackle foreign drivers who disregard road safety and the law.

The North-West MEP said: "Most drivers who bring their vehicles onto British roads do so with consideration and respect for road safety. But some do break the rules and the consequences can be serious.

"There may even be those who repeatedly ignore the law because they think they can never be punished. That makes me angry.

"The measures which we are backing, and which our Conservative-led Government supports, will go some way into giving our authorities more of a fighting chance when it comes to imposing the law and seeing that justice is done."

Timothy Kirkhope MEP today welcomed a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights rejecting an appeal by triple murderer Arthur Hutchinson against his whole-life sentence.

The Yorkshire MEP and Conservative spokesman on justice and home affairs in the European Parliament said the decision upheld the fairness of whole-life tariffs and meant Hutchinson would continue to receive the justice he deserved.

Hutchinson was jailed in 1984 for breaking into the Sheffield home of Basil and Avril Laitner on the day of their daughter's wedding, stabbing them to death and then killing their son.

Judges today rejected his appeal, saying the whole life tariff, imposed by then Home Secretary Leon Brittan, did not contravene Article 3 European Convention on Human Rights because the sentence was open to review.

Mr Kirkhope said: "Arthur Hutchinson's crimes sickened not only the people of Sheffield but the whole of the country.

"To people in Yorkshire he is notorious as a figure of unmitigated evil. He treated his victims with a complete lack of mercy. There can be no regrets if our criminal justice system treats him likewise.

"It is never very edifying when the likes of Hutchinson, who showed such disregard for humanity outside prison, complains about his human rights inside.

 

"The ruling recognises the fairness and justice of our system of whole life tariffs and the review procedures that go with them. It means Arthur Hutchinson will continue to be dealt with as he deserves."

Emma McClarkin MEP, Conservative trade spokesman in the European Parliament, today welcomed measures announced by the European Commission to boost transparency surrounding trade agreements.

 

She said the moves represented a major step in the right direction and a significant response to public concern over openness.
In a two-pronged initiative, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has urged the EU Council to make public its negotiating mandate on the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), and has also signed up the Commission itself to a transparency convention for existing Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement cases.  Miss McClarkin considers it vital that public reservations over transparency are addressed in order to ensure confidence.
She said:  "The huge value of such agreements cannot be underestimated.  That is why it is so important to take public opinion with us.
"A message has been sent about transparency and I am pleased to see it has been heard and acted upon. A clear lead has been given and it may now be time that individual EU governments could consider publishing in broad terms their own mandates on TiSA.
"You can't play all your cards face up in a negotiation like this, but you can be open with the public about certain priorities and preferences."

A decision today by European judges confirming restrictive measures against Mohammad Makhlouf – a close associate of Bashar Al-Assad – was welcomed today as a justified verdict.

Charles Tannock, Conservative spokesman on foreign affairs in the European Parliament, spoke out after the General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg published its decision on a case brought by Mr Makhlouf against the EU Council, appealing against being placed on a list of persons to whom the restrictive measures against Syria apply.

He said: "This is a welcomed decision and one that my group the ECR supports. Mohammad Makhlouf and his immediate family have been long allies of the Assad regime in Syria, securing influential positions in Government and amassing a vast family fortune. Since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, Makhlouf has remained close to Assad, continuing to exert influence and advise the President.  It is wholly justified that he should be prevented from entering EU Member States or accessing financial assets frozen within the EU."

 

 

A senior Conservative MEP today welcomed a decision to lift the EU's ban on mangoes from India.

London's Syed Kamall MEP said: "This announcement is fair and timely – good news for Indian growers and good news for customers in Britain."

Indian mangoes, often sold by the box-load, were banned last April by the EU Commission because plant pests had been found in consignments. It was feared they could threaten European salad crops.

Dr Kamall, who leads the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament, consistently called for an early lifting of the ban and urged EU officials to tackle the problem as Australia, New Zealand and Japan did, using vapour heat treatment.

The UK reportedly imports nearly 16 million mangoes each year, worth £6m, and the ban led to an e-petition calling on the UK Government to help supplies from India.

 

Mr Kamall said:  "I was anxious all along for the right balance to be struck between protecting our own horticulture industry from imported plant pests and playing fair by the growers on the Sub-Continent. For many communities in the UK, mangoes are a staple fruit and part of people's common diet.  They are delicious as well and healthy and I for one will be glad to see them back in my local stores."